Symphony No.1 in D major ('Titan')
Gustav Mahler

171

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The third of Mahler's 5 entries in the Ultimate Hall of Fame. This featured in the first Hall of Fame at its highest position of 122 and has appeared in every chart since, apart from in 2003.

Composing at the end of the Romantic era, as Mahler found himself doing, must have been something of a challenge. Many classical conventions had not just been questioned, but had been completely overthrown. Composers' emotions had been expressed in music in the most heartfelt of ways and everyone from Beethoven to Berlioz, via Brahms and Bizet, had composed masterpieces. So, along comes Mahler, inevitably a product of his day, but also a composer who was determined to break new ground. How did he do it? By applying a whole new meaning to the word 'orchestra'.

Composed when Mahler was 28, Titan exudes youthful exuberance and joy, though it then gives way to melancholy and introspection. The composer was ultimately to shape the history of the symphony and the clues to his long-term intentions were there for all to see in his first attempt at the genre.

The Clash of the Titans by Gustave Dore (1866).